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Life lessons I can't be silent about

What is in your hand, patriot?

The last time the IEBC was carrying out voter registration, I was very eager to be registered. I was keen to get my voter’s card and God willing this year participate for the first time in shaping the future of this great nation. Though eligible, I could not vote in the last two elections due to geographical circumstances. During the registration I kept asking people at home, in church and at work whether they had registered as voters during that voter registration exercise.

Some had registered but others said they did not see the need to. The argued that their vote will not change anything, that it would not matter in the elections since it is just one vote, it would make no difference. Some would boldly declare that they don’t need to vote, they don’t have time for things political.

I argued the case for voting to those around me, some agreed but some still felt that it’s not that important. I remember speaking to quite a number of people and it became apparent to me that about 3 out of 10 young people have not registered to vote. That translates to about 1 in every 3 which I think is a conservative figure. In other settings the number is 1 in every 2.

1 in 3 doesn’t seem like much but these figures disturb your mind when you look at them under a magnifier. If Kenya has 15 million youth who are eligible to vote, this means that 5 million of them are not registered to vote. Suddenly those numbers matter, no matter the political affiliation 5 million is a number to swing any election, especially if those youth are making voting decisions with their heads and not their pockets.

Am talking about youth who have some privileges; those who are in colleges and universities, those who have recently graduated from universities and colleges and those who have worked for a few years.

These are the young people who are most active in online activism, calling out the leaders who fail Kenyans, complaining of corruption and tribalism at every opportunity, pushing hashtags, calling for arrests, getting behind causes from the other side of their screens but come election day they will retreat to their habitats with no voters cards and no power to make the ultimate change they always talk about.

If hashtags were ballot papers, our president would come from a party called KOT.

Political decisions

Here is what my age group quickly forgets; that political decisions influence the jobs they are seeking, the rising cost of living, the security of Kenya and their neighbourhoods, the cost of doing business and much more.

In short, all the factors that these young people need to thrive in this nation are directly related to political decisions. If things went well in this country, the youth would benefit the most. Yet they don’t want to protest via the ballot box.

Most young people like me truly mean well for this nation. We want the best for this nation, we pray for its prosperity, we speak against the vices and are extremely proud of it success. Some of us though, think that we are alone in thinking out of the box or wanting real meaningful change. So some youth end up voting for the most popular candidates because they think the person they actually like will not win.

We follow the crowd and end up where we began. If you believe in a candidate however unpopular they are, vote for them, because you are letting your voice be heard and you are giving that candidate the confidence they need to come back in the next election if they lose. It also means that the popular candidate you don’t agree with will get a vote less. If many other people do the same, then it becomes significant and sometimes significant change takes some time.

Now that I am registered to vote, how should I approach this election?

Voting as a Christian

I am a believer in God and I would like to approach this election prayerfully. I want to go to God and ask him to help me choose for a leader that he approves of. I want to be in the will of God this coming election and I propose the same to you. The first step though is getting a voter’s card.

You see, no president has ever been prayed into state house. However good you are and whatever good you mean for this nation, no amount of prayer alone can get you into leadership. Faith here has to be followed by the action of voting. Believers all over the nation are praying for the nation, which is a good thing, but they will need to show some action. They will need to come out and vote for the person they believe God is leading them to vote for.

Leaders from God

I know you may be thinking, ‘but all leaders are chosen by God.’ Well, I thought so too until I started doing some research. Let me show you why I think it’s not that black and white.

Did Saul become king of Israel? Yes, he did. How did he become king? People wanted a king. Did God try to stop them? Yes he did. Did they listen? No they didn’t.

This story is found in 1 Samuel 8:4-9. The elders of Israel came to Samuel and asked him to appoint them a king to rule them like the other nations. Samuel was angered but nonetheless consulted God about it. God told Samuel to allow them to have a king for it was not Samuel they were rejecting but God, he also asked Samuel to warn them about the kind of king that shall reign over them.

That is how they got King Saul, and we all know how bad this story ends.

I believe that God ordains leaders to fulfil his purpose but I don’t think that all leaders are from God. This is simply because God cannot bypass our free will; our right to choose, the very thing that makes us human. God will not stand in our way just like he did not stand in the way of Israel when they demanded for a king.

In Hosea 8:4 God speaks, he says ‘they made kings, but not through me. They set up princes, but I knew it not. With their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction.’

This is rebellious Israel at its best, transgressing God’s covenant, disregarding his laws, worshipping idols and setting up their own kings. Clearly some leaders are not God ordained but man ordained.

Have we, in this nation, through the ballot, sought for our own kings? Have we insisted on having some kind of leaders, the ones who speak what we want to hear, the ones who do the things we approve of, the ones who reflect who we are?

I know you might be having trouble relating all this to Romans 13 where it says that God establishes authorities.  I do too, but am sure there is a way to understand that which we can discuss another time. God does not contradict himself and am sure he can bring understanding to that too. For now, it is clear from scripture that sometimes we insist raising up our own leaders.

God knows who our leaders will be, come August, but will they be our choice or God’s?

This does not mean that God cannot use leaders he did not ordain, he can still use them, the same way he can use our mistakes for his glory, but that does not mean he approves of the mistakes.

If God really chose all leaders for us, why does he ‘allow’ us to vote? Why go through the voting process for him to come and override our free will and install a leader? Why does he ask us to be his light and salt in this world? Does being light include the decisions that we make, accepting his guidance and not leaning on our own understanding? Do those decisions include voting? I believe that God wants us to display his character in the choices we make, including in voting.

Praying in an election year

As a Christian what are you praying for? Peace I suppose, unity most likely but are you praying for God to reveal his will concerning the candidates and eventually vote according to that revelation?

We need to be honest with ourselves, have we given voting decisions to God or have we held on to that one? Do we retreat to our default which is our tribes and our selfish desires on Election Day? Yes, the person you want to vote for may be from your tribe but have you asked God if that is his will. Surely God cannot lead us to always vote for a person from our tribe. God is not a respecter of persons.

We usually pray for God to give direction in choosing church leaders, why not for country leaders?

Let us ask God to guide us in choosing all ranks of leaders, from the MCA to the president.

Voting is participating with God in deciding the future. It is an expression of the free will that God has given us. All God is asking is for us to let him guide us, He wants to help us choose the correct leaders with his help.

As we pray for this nation, let us add this one prayer to our list; let us ask God who His choice is among the candidates. Let us diligently seek Him for direction, let us listen to His prophetic word and as true patriots let us exercise our faith by using the power that God has put in our hands, the vote, to fulfil his will.

3 Comments

  1. Going to get the voters card thanks alot the insight of prayer just oppened my eyes have l ever prayed for God’s will.

  2. Vincent Matinde

    January 19, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    Hi, this is a great article, especially answering the question if God chooses leaders and what to do in that state. On praying and elections, you have put it quite well, for a Christian voter, prayer has to be part of that. But I really doubt if majority ever consider this.

    One concern overall is this fact that for four years, we are largely silent on citizen participation. To be particular the idea of ‘voting good leaders’. I find it self defeating that after four years we are bashed up and down to register and vote because ‘our vote will count’. Number one, no one is ever sure if their votes count if the referee or the process seems flawed. Notice the word ‘seems flawed’. In Kenya particularly we have worked tirelessly to water down our institutions to the point that we don’t know if the courts can met our justice, if the anti corruption commission is really doing its job, or the electoral body has infiltrators. To convince someone that their vote will count, the referee needs to be waaaay above reproach and transparent. If I invite you to a game of, let’s say monopoly, I teach you the rules but as we play, I introduce new rules that do not favor you. Will you feel confident to play when I invite you again? Or you will be full of suspicion?

    Number two: It is also self defeating trying to do voter education on a limited time – months to election. Even if all Kenyans registered and voted, it will be pointless if their decisions are not pegged on a greater good than their tribe or clan. Politics is the science of resource distribution. Especially in the rural areas we need to educate people on why they need to look at what type of leader they want. If those who are fired up on voting and have a passion for politics, then they could educate their family, village on what country leadership entails. It doesn’t have to be NGO’s doing civic education. I am also not sure if this is taught in schools these days.

    Thirdly: the vote is not the beginning and end of a citizen’s duty. The new constitution has given powers to the people to recall their MPs. The constitution empowers anyone to get signatures of registered voters to implement a constitutional change. There are so many powers given to legislators and citizens that they don’t know about. These can be used to bring change but no one, even the elected are pushing this agenda, for a greater good. There is much I could speak on here but some needs backing of the law.

    To me, it is not a matter of register and go vote. That cannot be done in a vacuum of knowledge. I am of the opinion that bad leaders are firstly elected by citizens who vote for them. We never count potential votes that don’t come in. We count cast ballots.

    To encourage Kenyans and Africans to own this process we need to take care of the issues raised and do more in enlightening people.

    • Vincent, clearly you have a passion for civic education and empowering people to make the right decisions during the elections. You have to find a way of channeling that and helping others understand that we the people have the power. I agree that there is a lot more to be done, that things are not as black and white as we think they are, that our institutions are compromised, that justice is becoming an illusion…. but I also understand as a christian that God is sovereign and at the end of the day fighting for a kingdom that has an end can be futile.

      However, God has given us the wisdom, knowledge and power to be his light and salt in this country. That is why i feel like Christians allowing God to lead them in governance will have the utmost effect, simply because God is the only one who means absolute good for this nation. They say that Christians should not take sides in elections, I disagree, there is a God side that Christians need to take, the side that stands for godly values, the side of justice, equality and peace…… even if we don’t see that now.

      Knowledge is always good, because without it we perish, so civic education and empowerment is important at all levels. It might take time to see the change but it can happen. But more important is when knowledge is followed by prayer so that the heart can be convicted and good values instilled. ‘Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil’ C.S. Lewis said. So we need to work on both fronts, empowering people with right knowledge but also instilling the right values through God’s word and example.

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